Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1956-1959 BMW 503


The 1956-1959 BMW 503 was the first postwar sporting car from Bavarian Motor Works. Based on the Type 502 sedan box- and tubular-section chassis, it also shared its 3.2-liter V-8 engine. The 503 was offered in sleek coupe or cabriolet (convertible) body styles designed by Count Albrecht Goertz, both with 2+2 accommodations.

The 1956-1959 BMW 503 was an expensive indulgence but a great image builder for BMW, which was still recovering from wartime damage and facing many financial problems in these years. It was relatively heavy, in the German manner, so performance was limited to about 118 mph maximum. The 503 offered a civilized interior and assured (if not nimble) handling.

The four-speed manual gearbox was mounted remotely on early models, as on the 502, but was placed in unit with the engine from late 1957. The original steering column gearchange gave way to a floor-mounted mechanism on later examples.

Pluses of the 1956-1959 BMW 503:

  • Exclusive '50s BMW
  • Robust chassis and engine
  • Rarity
  • Good appreciation

Minuses of the 1956-1959 BMW 503:

  • Parts impossible to obtain nowadays
  • Overshadowed by 507, and not as nice to drive
  • Hard to find
  • Expensive if you do

Production of the 1956-1959 BMW 503:
412

Specifications of the 1956-1959 BMW 503:
Wheelbase, inches: 111.6
Length, inches: 187.0
Weight, pounds: 3,310
Price, new: NA

Engines for the 1956-1959 BMW 503:

Type Size Horsepower Years
ohv V-8 3,168 cc (193 cid) 140* 1956-1959

*net

Want more information about classic cars? See:


More to Explore